Governor Chafee did the constitutionally correct thing and vetoed a bill that would have funneled state money to an anti-abortion Christian group under the auspices of a “Choose Life” license plate.
Here’s the text of Chafee’s veto message:
In accordance With the provisions of Section 14, Article IX of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Section 43-1-4 of the Rhode Island General Laws, I transmit, with my disapproval, 2013 H 5053, Substitute A, “An Act Relating to Motor and Other Vehicles – Registration of Vehicles.”
This bill Would allow the Division of Motor Vehicles to offer specialty license plates imprinted with the words “Choose Life.” In addition to the regularly prescribed motor vehicle registration fee, “Choose Life” plates Would be subject to a $40.00 surcharge; $20.00 Would be allocated to the general fund and $20.00 would be distributed to Care-Net Rhode Island “to support the alternative choices of infant adoption and Rhode Island’s Safe Haven.”
The function of a license plate is to register and identify a motor vehicle. Rhode Island residents may choose to purchase specialty license plates that support politically neutral secular organizations such as the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the Friends of the Plum Beach Lighthouse or the Red Sox Foundation. Conversely, Care-Net – Rhode Island is an affiliate of CareNet, a private organization originally founded as the Christian Action Council. On its website, CareNet states that its ultimate aim is to “to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ in Word and
The Framers of the United States and Rhode Island Constitutions constructed strong Walls of separation between church and state. This bill compels the state to collect and distribute funds to an organization that advocates a particular religious and political viewpoint. It is my belief that state participation in the transmission of funds to this organization Would violate the separation of church and state, one of the fundamental principles upon Which our state was founded.
For this reason, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this Veto.